Writings on Civil Rights

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our Review of the Week highlights a rich collection of civil rights literature

Civil rights literature, past & present

ed. by Christopher Allen Varlack Salem Press, 2017
370p bibl index, 9781682172681 $105.00, 9781682172698

Even readers without previous knowledge of some of the writers treated in this volume will appreciate the discussions and the book’s overarching message. The essays Varlack (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County) has collected offer excellent insights into some of the most notable writings of civil rights activists—e.g., Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Alice Walker—works that take on race, equality, and social identity. But the collection goes beyond the civil rights era, tapping into earlier writings and connecting their meanings to contemporary social justice, including, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement. And the volume goes beyond race to consider, and provide perspective on, LGBTQ rights and gender equality. It concludes with valuable historical time lines on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Released in the “Critical Insights” series, this exceptional introductory work puts civil rights literature in historical context. Though pricey, it will be useful to a wide audience, in particular nonspecialists.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; faculty; general readers.
J. T. Pekarek, SUNY At Cortland
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Jan 2018